Should You Make an Appointment to Fix Those Squeaky Language Mechanics?

Do you know what an “artistic conundrum” is?

Actually, you probably don’t, since it’s a phrase I just made up to describe a real-life situation that may or may not already have a name.

Technicalities aside, I define an artistic conundrum as any instance where an author, musician, artist or other creative individual is forced to decide between work that is aesthetically sound or work that is mechanically sound and – ah-ah-ah! – you can’t choose both.

Fergie, for example, faces this conundrum in her song “Fergalicious” when she spells tasty with an “e.”

Florida Georgia Line faces it too in “Anything Goes” when, 30 seconds in, they demonstrate their lyrical prowess with this stunner: “Phone blowing up ‘where you is?’” (For what it’s worth, the duo didn’t actually pen that one. Still not excusable, though.)

Both are cringeworthy, but I get it. I really do.

“Tastey” with an “e” fits a cadence that “tasty” without an “e” doesn’t, and the line immediately following the offensive grammar in the FGL tune goes, “Baby sayin’ ‘baby, let’s do this,’” proving that, sometimes, all a guy wants to do is rhyme.

Which is cool. Being a guy. Rhyming. Being a guy who wants to rhyme. It’s all cool.

Sounding like an uneducated country bumpkin?

Not so much.

I mean, “tastey”? Seriously?

As much as I want to tell Fergie and Florida Georgia Line to go back to school and pay attention in class and no napping and do your homework and – DANG IT, I SAID NO NAPPING – I think they help raise a legitimate question, albeit inadvertently.

If rules are meant to be broken, then when do you choose to break them and when do you choose to follow them? 

Exhibit A: Froot Loops

If you’re like me, this is one of those names that you didn’t really come to appreciate until later in life, mainly because you ate Froot Loops long before you developed reading skills.

“Fruit” is a pretty basic word, definitely not worth much in the game of Scrabble, and one that most people aren’t too prone to misspell or misuse.

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But “froot”?

“Froot” is that one-eyed cat with random patches of missing fur and maybe even a missing back leg too that you saw at a shelter, and at first you couldn’t decide whether or not it was ugly, but then you made up your mind that it wasn’t because you felt sorry for it, and did it ask to be that way, and no, it didn’t.

In other words, “froot” is that deformed cat you take home with you after all and learn to love even though it’s a weird combination of cute and ugly, and sure, it – the word, not the cat – looks funny when you swap out the vowels for a pair of o’s, but if there’s ever a time to add character to fruit without dipping it in chocolate, now would be it.

If you really, really think about it, “froot” almost makes more sense than “fruit” does anyway. I mean, as far as misspellings go, it’s actually quite convincing – so convincing, in fact, that even supersmart reality TV stars fail to notice it.

Plus, turning the o’s into Froot Loops, a la the logo?

Bloody freaking brilliant.

Verdict: It’s all good, Froot Loops.

Exhibit B: Kesha (The Artist Formerly Known as Ke$ha) and 3OH!3

Cheat sheet time: That’s Kesha Sebert with Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte, a solo pop artist and a duo representing the electronic genre, respectively, who teamed up on 2010’s “Blah Blah Blah.”

The song, though admittedly catchy, is profanity-laced garbage. At one point, the guys bust out this sweet abomination of the English language: “In this bar it only matters who I is.”

Here, let me repeat that so it can thoroughly sink in.

“In this bar it only matters who I is.”

I is.

I.

Is.

In 3OH!3’s defense – though it’s not really much of a defense – they were merely trying to rhyme with a word I can’t repeat here.

I guess someone’s been giving grammar lessons to Florida Georgia Line. 

Verdict: I don’t care who you is, but subject-verb agreement is important. Try again.

Exhibit C: McDonald’s

Yes, that Mickey D’s: home of the ball pit you once tossed your McDonaldland cookies in and creator of the fries that remain edible months after you drop one under the seat of your car.

All of that is trivial compared to the fact that McDonald’s is one of the longest-running fast food chains in history. It’s been around for 62 years and in that time has amassed some of the most memorable campaigns since the dawn of advertising.

There have been references to just about everything that makes McDonald’s McDonald’s, from its burgers to its infamous golden arches, a beacon of salt and grease that we’ve been trained to spot from even the farthest of distances.

Today, the fast food giant is all about the love, hawking Big Macs and McChickens alongside “i’m lovin’ it,” a slogan that’s been around since the early 2000s.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

It’s a full sentence, yet doesn’t start with a capital letter (as mechanically it should) or end with any punctuation (as it also should), though kudos to the McMarketing Department for getting everything else right.

Are you bothered by this? If so, consider these alternatives.

I’m lovin’ it. – Sounds like something you’d say to your brother after he pelts you with spit wads nonstop for an hour and then has the gumption to ask you how you like it.

I’m lovin’ it! – It’s! Just! Too! Enthusiastic!

I’m lovin’ it? – But are you really? Because I’m thinking you’re not.

I’m lovin’ it … – Oh, ellipses, you dirty tease, you, hinting at something more to come. It could be bad; it could be good. We don’t really know. I’m lovin’ it … except I love Burger King more? I’m lovin’ it … all day, e’eryday, can’t fit in my pants anymore but oh, well.

There’s also that capital “I.” It doesn’t belong. It’s stuffy and stodgy and everything McDonald’s isn’t. “i’m lovin’ it” – just like that – is fun and casual and a perfect complement to the restaurant that inspired it.

Verdict 1: Did that puke ever get cleaned up? No, really, did it?

Verdict 2: i’m givin’ you a pass on this one, mcdonald’s

So, should you make an appointment to fix those squeaky language mechanics?

There’s no clear answer for this one, so use your judgment. If it makes sense and you have a sound argument for inflicting pain on the English language, run with it. If it just makes you look stupid, stick with what is correct.

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Six Degrees
Six Degrees uses psycho-sensory tools and techniques to build more successful national and global brands. Brands are rooted in human perception. And our psycho-sensory approach is designed to identify deeper and richer insights from human perception and then develop brand communications that change suboptimal perceptions or reinforce the right perceptions. More than 80 percent of the information humans process is nonverbal, making it essential that brands manage the sensory signals they send out. Our people are passionate branding experts wielding powerful psycho-sensory tools to build stronger and more successful brands across the globe.

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